Research Topic

Expansive Learning in Teacher Education

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Teacher education is currently the target of public and policymakers' pressure to provide teachers with knowledge and skills that will enable today's children to participate in a global, rapidly changing and competitive world. Acknowledging that education has a key role in an individual’s ability to exploit ...

Teacher education is currently the target of public and policymakers' pressure to provide teachers with knowledge and skills that will enable today's children to participate in a global, rapidly changing and competitive world. Acknowledging that education has a key role in an individual’s ability to exploit their potential for a meaningful, satisfying life and contribution to society, traditional work methods and knowledge transmission models are no longer sufficient. Groundbreaking yet sustainable innovations are sought after.

Expansive Learning is a term coined by Engeström to describe creation of new professional knowledge, as opposed to learners' acquisition of existing knowledge previously unknown to them. Expansive learning involves a three-pronged change: transformed practices, novel theoretical conceptualizations, and empowered sense of agency. Expansive learning is a social and not merely an individual one, and it transforms all aspects of the learning organization's professional activity: its vision, goals, practices and products.

There is often a trigger for expansive learning because existing organizations are often unable to react to an acute problem or changing reality, leading to the requirement of a new model of action. This is very true of the state of teacher education today. Expansive learning often occurs in heterogeneous groups of professionals who cross organizational boundaries and collaborate to find new solutions, helping to find fresh viewpoints, unfamiliar conceptualizations and work habits.

Learning develops gradually in cyclic processes in the learning organizations' `proximal development zone'. Collaboration between different people leads to the construction of new knowledge that is formed and expanded whenever it is implemented and experienced. A new circle opens when existing, stable achievements, which were formed in previous cycles, are called into question.

The Expansive learning process has seven typical components: (1) Questioning (2) Analysis (3) Modelling the new solution (4) Examining and testing the new model (5) Implementing the new model (6) Reflecting on the process (7) Consolidating and generalizing the new practice. These components are not a fixed sequence and are not always all present in expansive learning processes. The process is fraught with misunderstandings, gaps, conflicts, and unexpected outcomes. It is heavily influenced by the personal characteristics of the participants, their existing knowledge goals, their values, emotions and habits. The outcome is not guaranteed, and it is quite possible that disagreements and other constraints will lead to the failure of the entire process. However, these failed processes may become a source of inspiration for others.

This Research Topic's call is directed at teacher educators who are formally involved in teacher preparation or professional learning. The collection of peer-reviewed articles will publish original empirical studies documenting expansive learning at the organizational level and beyond, i.e., descriptions of projects or initiatives that transformed accepted practices as well as conceptualizations, that may inspire other organizations to learn from and try. As a whole, this Research Topic will contribute to the collective effort to provide teacher educators, teachers and students with the education they need.


Keywords: Expansive Learning, Teacher Education, Professional Development, Teacher Educators, Educational Change


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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